Sleeting rain was starting to seep through my sweatshirt as a I used my sleeve to wipe off the tire pressure valve, it kept on fogging up because of my breath. It had to be about 33-34 degrees F, just enough to give way to a freezing rain instead of that snow I have come to love here in Vermont.
The tire pump was old and took forever to inflate my tires, driver side right was a little bit low, I think there is a small leak in the tire, in hind sight 19″ rims with low profile tires may have been a poor move in my neck of the woods. Looking up I could see my buddy coming up the street wearing a black leather jacket, backpack slung over one shoulder.
“Better safe than sorry” I shouted over to him above the standard Friday night pedestrian traffic heading down to the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington. Its about an hour and forty-five minute drive to Montreal from where we were, and I certainly didn’t want to be spending a good portion of my night on the side of the road, even though the main act didn’t get on until 5am, no sense in being interupted, after all we had a show to catch.
If everything went according to schedule we would be able to get to The Westin by about 01:30, relax with our friends for a bit and make it over to ((STEREO)) for the premiere of one of the most talked about producers around at the moment, Hot Since ’82. HS82 has been making quite a bit of noise all over the place, his remix of Green Velvet’s “Bigger Than Prince” has been a very popular hit, reasonably so its a terrific remix that chugs with some serious energy. On his Soundcloud page he had been steadily releasing stream only teasers of his new full length album “Little Black Book” which was causing quite a buzz, the anticipation had been heavy. Luckily a friend of mine had sent me an early release of “Little Black Book” about a week before its scheduled debut, much of the car ride with my good friend was spent discussing the album.
“Little Black Book” is nothing short of a work of art. It is not often we get to see full length album releases of this magnitude, especially one with such quality. As we flip through the pages of HS82‘s “Little Black Book” we are weightlessly transported through a thumping dreamscape layered with grinding chords and soothing bass lines. What I really appreciated about all the tracks within the album is that there is a wide range of sound, many genres are hit and we could discuss until we are blue in the face the definitive category each song fits into, but one thing is for sure there is an underlying sound that is HS82‘s own, and just as any good book ties into its main story line, you can easily pin point the artists pen in each and every note. After hearing the album I could not wait to hear HS82 live, and especially at all places, the techno mecca of the Quebecois, ((STEREO)).
We arrived at Stereo at about 03:30 am, the line was non existent and we walked in without a problem. I always enjoy the entrance to this infamous club, it is very misleading in its drab and unimpressive nature. The ticket window is just a small stand in the negative space of the stairway, staffed by one to two attendants and features little to no info on any upcoming shows. The coat check, an awful avocado green cracked and faded is almost irritating and itt isn’t until you pass through the small lounge and head up the final stair case that you get the full impression of the club. That last staircase, laid in wood, plunges you into the middle of the dance floor, either slightly left or right, depending on your preference. Overhead is a massive disco ball that slowly rotates and glistens, an ever present reminder of the era that gave birth to the driving forces behind this club came. Booming techno rips through your body, but not through your ear drums, a sound system that is mind boggling loud but still allows one to carry a full on conversation with someone standing 3 feet from them, without shouting powers the mighty dancefloor. With only a few mild mannered strobe lights and a handful of motionless stage lights, there are hardly any club special effects we have come to associate with rave culture; like an amphitheater or an opera house, Stereo was designed specifically for the music.
As the club slowly packed up and anticipation mounted, there was a few things that came to mind. The first thing I began to notice was there was a lot of people here, much more than I had expected for a relatively new headliner like HS82, and the crowd was very young. Unlike previous experiences and contrary to the culture at Stereo there were quite a few Americans that night, many doting “Pacha” t-shirts that were acting very out of place, shoving and running around through the crowd, the regulars remained unamused.
There was a great buzz about in the air, this was a very important event for HS82, discussing with a friend we agreed that this show could make or break his reputation. With his recent success in production many people were very eager to hear him play out a live show. He had been touring the country hitting the appropriate venues for his music like Output in NYC but he now was technically in Europe, and needed to play to the crowd. My friend and I were very eager to see if he would be adapting to his surroundings here at Stereo. Stereo is techno club through and through, we had to listen to at least 3 hours of straight negligent techno before HS82 even came on, so it was very important that he address what his crowd loved but still was able to play out his deeper sounds, a regular informed me that if he is to win this crowd over it would be to play a solid amount of techno and drive it into a deeper house feel intermittently but not too much because he may lose everyones attention, and he was able to do just that.
Hs82 finally arrived on the stage at about 05:00 and blended right into where his opener had left off. He took the reigns driving forcefully into a very energetic first couple hours. Filling the room with dancers he drove it hard for a solid hour and a half, it was not until about 06:30 that HS82 brought the subwoofers to a low growl and swayed the crowd with a ghoulish deep bass driven few tracks. For about a half an hour he played out some of the tracks that I came to Stereo hear and it was excellent, I did however notice some gaps in the dance floor as the crowds beloved techno was pushed a side for something a little heavier, but they didn’t have to wait long for HS82 sped it up after about a half an hour, and repeated that schedule of music transitions for the rest of his show.
Overall the show was a great experience, it was really nice to go see an artist who has impressed in his productions, pack a club and keep them dancing until 9am, especially at such a cynical and important venue such as Stereo. Moda Black had certainly picked their best candidate for the the “Little Black Book” series, Hot Since ’82 did a wonderful job delivering the first installment and really impressed me as a live performer. I know my friends and I will be keeping close tabs on HS82, always hiding one or two tracks in our sets and making sure to share anything we deem worthy from this very soon to be successful producer.